I’m beginning to feel nervous.
Are you, yet?
Twenty-four hours from the time I’m writing this England will either have gone through, gone home, or be in a tense penalty shootout.
It’s because I am beginning to believe more and more that we could reach the final that I feel so nervous. Coming into the tournament, I saw progress as getting to the quarter final. Now I’m feeling greedy.
Now I want it all!
Yet the teams we think we could beat seem to be surprising everyone…
It seems there are no sure things in a World Cup match.
Mexico went at Brazil right from the start. Brazil responded and, although both were attacking, Brazil looked more likely to score.
And they did. Neymar tapped in a low cross from Willian 5 minutes into the second half.
But you couldn’t count this Mexico side out. Not the side that beat Germany in their opening game. They press and they press and they badger and they badger and you really start to feel like they could find a way back.
Then Firmino comes off the bench to put in Brazil’s second in the 87nd minute.
You really have to feel for Mexico. They deserved more than being knocked out in the round of 16, but unfortunately for them, they were drawn Brazil.
And Brazil don’t look like crumbling.
Belgium facing Japan was a game I thought would be done and dusted quickly. Japan hadn’t shown us much so far, only getting this far based on having less yellow cards than Senegal.
It was a one-sided match in the first half, despite Japan having a confident start. But their defence was well organised and well formed.
After half time, Japan score two between the 47th – 51st minute. Vertonghen’s (am I spelling that right?) weak interception on the break leading to a counter, and the second a boot into the bottom corner.
Changes are made. Fellaini comes on. Vertonghen (probably not spelling that right) makes up for his folly and heads one back and Fellaini equalises between the 67th – 73rd minute.
It seems that goals come in a flurry in this match.
Just as we are heading for extra time, Japan have a few close calls in stoppage time and almost put the ball into the net – then Belgium break and score with seconds to go.
Like Mexico, it’s hard to take for Japan. Afterwards, you could see their players punching the ground in frustration. To be so close and play so well, it is gutting.
But the World Cup takes no prisoners.
England need to perform tomorrow. That is one thing we have learnt so far – they must perform. We will not do it if we walk. We need to be tactically astute, full of gusto, and finish our chances, then we can do it.
If not, we may end up just like Spain, Germany, Argentina, and almost Belgium – to name but a few…